"Piping Shrike"

Subject: "Piping Shrike"
From: brian fleming <>
Date: Sun, 01 Oct 2006 19:40:35 +1000
brian fleming wrote:

"Piping Crow-Shrike" was the vernacular name given by Gould to the Black-backed Magpie, Gymnorhina tibicen, which he believed was specifically distinct from the White-backed and Tasmanian forms. He also called the Currawongs and Butcherbirds 'Crow-shrikes', though he placed them in the genus Cracticus. He does not mention the colonial common name Magpie - given automatically by English-speakers to anything black and white, such as a piebald horse or a football team..

Gould would have restricted the name Magpie to the European corvid, which is very different in appearance, with comparatively little white in its plumage, a long fan-tail, and chattering calls quite unlike the Australian Magpie's song. I heard of an Australian visitor to London Zoo who saw what he called a Magpie, c. 1960 - he was roundly told off by a bystander for not using the 'Piping Crow-Shrike' monicker on the cage. Incidentally 'tibicen' means flautist, according to Cayley. "Murray Magpie" is South Australian local name for what I in Victoria call a Mudlark, Sydney-siders call a Peewee, and books call Australian Magpie-Lark. I noticed the other day that 'Macca' on ABC Local radio's "Australia All Over' doesn't know this!

South Australia and Western Australia are the only Australian colonies which took native wildlife for their badges. Whether the badge led to the derisory name of 'Crow-eaters' for South Australians I don't know. When the Adelaide team could not keep its original magpie colours on joining the AFL, the name 'Crows' followed automatically.
Anthea Fleming

Dr Richard Nowotny wrote:

While in Adelaide last weekend (for the AFL preliminary final) I became
aware for the first time of the "Piping Shrike", South Australia's official government logo bird (or whatever its actual status is - it's on official government stationery, etc). I realized that I had seen the stylized bird with outstretched, curved wings many times previously without really taking
much notice of it, but I had never before heard or read the term Piping

So what is a Piping Shrike and what are the origins of this, presumably
local, name? I started by asking some locals - only to discover that there
is a fairly high degree of uncertainty in the minds of the lay populace.
They all knew of the Piping Shrike and its place in the state's heraldry,
but in response to my questions the following comments were typical:
"Probably a magpie." No, it's not a magpie - maybe a 'Murray Magpie'." "I'm
not sure." "I don't know where the name comes from."

[I note that one of the "Other Names" for Australian Magpie in the Reader's Digest Complete Book of Australian Birds is Piping Crow-shrike (and that a
Murray Magpie is a Magpie-lark).]

So, here's the opportunity for local birding/official logo experts to
educate me, and any other ill-informed Birding-Aussers, about the name, its
origins and which bird it refers to.


Port Melbourne, Victoria


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